The premise of The Box: What if you are presented with a box that has a
button on top that, when pushed, will do two things: cause a person you
don't know to die and give you $1,000,000 in cash. Great premise, but
The Box has a very basic flaw: it's excruciatingly boring.
The newly released concert film, This Is It, displays Michael Jackson's outstanding showmanship just so. It doesn't
delve into his troubled persona, rather presenting him as seen on stage - a perspective from which
it's vividly clear that Jackson's reputation as a brilliant entertainer is duly
Put "low budget" and "horror movie" together, chances are
you'll have a laugh, maybe an "Ewww," and most certainly an "Oh, come on." Paranormal Activity has all of the above, but is an ambitious
step toward breaking that mold, proving that decent writing is far more effective than buckets of
gore, computer-generated monsters and Sorority Row.
There's a lot I wanted to like in Law Abiding Citizen, a
well-made film with several excellent scenes, but the film's just too flip-floppy. It's a film with
two personalities - one is a daring tale of blurred morality, the other a dead-fish action film full
of cliches and by-the-books "suspense."
Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are, a 101-minute adaptation
of Maurice Sendek's 1963 classic, is simply a film told from the viewpoint of a very confused
child. Much like Elliott from E.T.: The Extra
Terrestrial, Wild Things' Max has probably seen more
of his fair share of sadness and rejection in life - he's lonely, and he's got some anger in him,
If you haven't long to live, see Couples Retreat. It makes 107 minutes seem like an eternity. But the atrocious
new romantic comedy that is neither romantic nor a comedy managed to date-night its way to No. 1
at this weekend's box office, toppling Zombieland,
which, for a film about flesh-eating undead monsters, has considerably more life.
Whenever stuck in the conversational doldrums, I'll bait
someone to say something like, "I want the truth," so I can indulge myself in repeating one of Jack
Nicholson's most memorable lines, "You can't handle the truth!"
General results are
frustration, amusement and scorn. But the quotation is not without philosophical merit, questioning
how people handle truth and, more specifically, if they even wish to do so.
The brilliant new
comedy The Invention of Lying tackles this question and others, delivering a fresh concept with
expert timing for one of the most original - and funny - films of the year.
Zombieland is a breath
of fresh air in the genre, an entertaining adventure comedy with thrills and big laughs. It
helped that it doesn't play like a zombie film, which usually deals with groups of healthy humans
trying to save civilization from the man-eating monsters.
A somewhat consistent theme in most Bruce Willis movies is that
our hero wakes up with a hangover, headache or both. The sci-fi thriller Surrogates follows this formula and a handful of cliched others, sacrificing depth
for flash, and in less than 90 minutes.
Space has always been a great setting for horror films, mainly
because we know so little about it. Anything is plausible when people leave earth because we can't
logic our way out of it - we know that shooting Michael Myers in the head would kill him, but we
don't know that there aren't unimaginable horrors waiting for us somewhere in the stars. Pandorum plays on these ideas, but it's so much more than just
another horror set aboard a dark and dreary spaceship. It starts with two confused characters that
have no clue as to what is going on and slowly reveals the truth - keeping the viewer out of the
loop until the characters find out. It flows perfectly, looks great and is downright scary
throughout - horror films this good are few and far between.
Jennifer's Body is a
mess from beginning to end, killed by a lack of character and an uncertainty about what it is. Is
it a horror? Is it a comedy? I'm not sure that either writer Diablo Cody or director Karyn Kusama
Flux) know for sure, and the result is a film that isn't scary or funny.
Let's face it, what kid hasn't dreamt of a giant pancake crushing his school?
All right, maybe not so many, but kids aplenty and their parents should
find a tasty treat in the computer-animated Cloudy with a Chance of
Filled to its frothy brim with loathsome characters, gaping
plot holes and popped collars, this remake of1983's The House on Sorority Row brings nothing new
to its genre. It somehow even manages to detract.
That genre is "slasher film," begging
the question, "What else can be done?" Rather than wager a creative answer, Sorority Row copies
the passed tests of its predecessors, embellishing the tired material with a slick presentation
and botched attempts at thrills and laughs.
With the Kate
Beckinsale thriller Whiteout, I was afforded a rare movie-going experience. Having not evenseen a
trailer, I entered the cinema knowing only what I'd seen on the poster - that the film featured
Kate Beckinsale (Underworld, The Aviator) and snow.
True to its word, there's an
abundance of both, along with a somewhat predictable, but still suspenseful, murder mystery.
Throw in some forensic gross-out scenes right out of TV's CSI, a gratuitous but not-so-revealing
Beckinsale shower scene, and you've got a thriller that plays like a network crime drama. And
without Richard Belzer.
Whether or not you like Shorts, a film many will love
and many will hate, it's impossible not to smile as you
watch writer/director Robert Rodriguez's imagination
run wild and free. Whether directing more mature films (Sin
City, Desperado) or family films (the Spy Kids trilogy), you
never quite know what he's going to do next - or
where the next scene will take you.
I'm not sure whether or not Shorts will work for most
audiences, to be honest, but I still had a great time. The
title refers to the style in which the story is told -
there film has five chapters that are show in a jumbled order,
much like the style of Rodriguez's friend and frequent
collaborator, Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill).
It begins with an epic staring contest in "Episode Zero"
and then jumps from story to story, each centering on a particular
character's adventures with a magical, rainbow-colored
wishing rock that falls from the sky.
Director Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs) has gleefully
crafted another love letter to cinema, weaving together his
favorite genres with ferocious finesse and gruesome grace.
This time, it's set in World War II, but is, by no means,
a reverent war movie. Far from it. It's a revenge film,
a lion in wolf's clothing, sly and majestically fierce.
And it's a funny film, but not in the Kelly's Heroes
sense. Inglourious Basterds is delightfully dark, written
by a man who brushes history to the side for the sake of his
narrative, a character piece that relies as heavily on dialogue
as it does on action.